Living in the Now!

Learning to enjoy my life more!

A Raspberry Pi Update

To Start With

A macro shot of the Raspberry Pi’s logo printed on the circuit board.

At the moment it’s still in development, and its very much a learning tool to teach technical concepts. But that doesn’t mean that this is not suitable for kids, they will be fine. The whole thing will be a learning experience just like it was for me when I was 8-9 years old with my Commodore 64. But unlike then there is so much help available on the internet that anything can be over come with a little time searching around.

From what I’ve heared of Eben Upton (the guy behind the Raspberry Pi) it sounds like he wants to bring back this raw basic form of comuting to children so that they learn that a computer is more than just how you use the mouse and how you use word. its about how you properly formulate a IF statement. Yes its a complicated subject to grasp but just because most adults struggle to open a word document doesn’t mean that a kid can’t program.

And yes its a confusing and complicated subject but that’s because computers are complicated, it doesn’t matter how much companies make using a computer as easy and friendly as possible because all they are really doing is making it harder and harder for people to actually know what’s happening behind the interface and develop these things.

For those that may have problems with the terminology used in the rest of this article or want to know more about a specific thing I have provided links to more information. If I’ve missed something then please comment or send me a message on Twitter @dfragglet, thanks.

First Experience

Using the Pi and my net book late at night just like when I was a kid hacking away on my Commodore 64

An example is when you first get it you have to download the OS (Operating System) image to your computer and then unpack the image on to the SD card. First time I did this I did it in Windows and used the tool suggested, work flawlessly. After a few weeks there was a new version that they were asking people to beta test, I downloaded it and used a tutorial I found in Linux Format magazine to help me write the image to the SD card using the command line. This worked fine for the original image but when I tried it with the new updated image it messed the SD card up and made it unrecognisable to any OS I plugged it into. Eventually I found that despite my computers not recognizing it my camera would read it and say it had an error but allow me to format it and that fixed the issue of it not being read in any OS.

Eventually I found that the tutorial in the Magazine had a few steps missing so I followed the official tutorial on doing it through the Ubuntu terminal and it worked fine. Now in Windows you can do it through the command line or there’s a special tool, same for Linux and Mac.

When Ubuntu Terminal sessions go bad.

some unusual output from a terminal session on Ubuntu.

Once the SD card is prepared, pop it into the Raspberry Pi and power it. Now if the image is written correctly it’ll boot (first boot will take a little longer as its setting it’s self up to the hardware) after that it will just stop at a Linux command line asking you to log in. Default log in is username: pi and the password: raspberry.

Once logged in your still at the command line and to start a graphical desktop to do some work you need to type “startx”. then it loads a GUI called LXDE. its a Debian based Linux distribution but unlike alot of the other distribution for desktops this comes with tools to get started but nothing else.

The next step was finding a WiFi dongle that works, really long and technical process or trawling through the Raspberry Pi wiki finding the dongle that people have got to work and then following the steps that are there to make it work. Took 8 hours with the help of Phill at first to research and refine the process for using one of the WiFi dongles but after that we managed to refine that process down to 6 steps that took 5 mins to complete.

Expectations

It will not give you an easy ride but you will learn a lot from just using it. I know more about Linux from using my Pi for a month than I did from running Ubuntu for the past 2 years. mostly because Ubuntu is refined and well developed OS. The raspberry pi, not yet, there’s still a lot of performance to be unlocked from it as there’s no driver yet to use the GPU, no login manager (Note: the link to the left take you to a page for a login manager, it has a very good definition of what a login manager is but I am unsure if this particular Manager will work on the Pi) to make starting it up easier or package manager to make installing software easier by default, but there is a way of adding these things later.

If you want a little computer to view web pages, word process and play games or to just generally use out of the box then this is not for you. If you want to get dirty and learn how it works and get involved in then yes its for you. Its basically the same with a car, you want to own and use a car but don’t care or want to know how it works then stick to the well know manufacturers. You want a car that’s going to force you to learn how to keep it on the road then you get and MGB GT or any other classic car.

Other Impressions

The guys over at Jupiter Broadcasting have done a review of the Raspberry Pi and if you want to hear what they thought you can either got to the site Jupiter broadcasting or watch the embedded video right here. 

Advertisements
3 Comments »

31 and Facebookless

Since you’ve been gone

So its been a few weeks since I left Facebook and I can’t say I’ve missed it, only thing I did feel I missed was somthing incredibly minor in the end that I felt glad I wasn’t there to get sucked into it.

Facebook have got such a tight hold over theyer users that it just draws them in, as I type I am also watching last sundays This Week in Tech and Leo Laporte happens to just quickly open his Facebook and he gets drawn in, he exclaims that he wants to check it and post.

This hold over the user is not healthy, and to a certin level this applies to all social networks but I find that with Twitter I spend a significantly less time browsing and checking tweets than I ever did on Facebook, and this has acctually lead to me spending less time on Google plus.

But with Google Plus I find that I can’t scan it as quickly and that even though I spent quite a while building up circles its all stuff I’ve already seen on Twitter so I’m loosing interest in Google Plus, but I’m going to carry on using it for the time being to see how it progresses.

Lets see…

One of the things I’m looking forward to is seeing how many people will congratulate me on my birthday without having that reminder from Facebook. Personally I dont care who does or doesn’t remember me getting another year older, I always find birthdays slightly pointless but its a widely accepted tradition and gift giving is nice regardless of the reason.

But yes this is my 31st birthday, I’m planing on spending the day with my wife and my friend just chilling and having a good time, in a week or so I might have a little family get together and have some food etc.

So far

This year I’ve dropped out of college due to illness, lost my uncle, fallen out with some people. Also had some good things happen to me, me and my sister have put aside our differences and issues we had with eachother, I have made a very good friend whom has become quite a close friend in a very short space of time, Le Mans was a little disappointing when the delta wing got taken out but it was still a good race and provided many thrills. Monaco for the F1 was unusually boring and the European Grand Prix was unusually exciting, possibly the most exciting race all year but for all the wrong reasons.

Yet to come this year is my hopeful return to college and to achive some personal goals.

Recent Pi activities

So since I’ve gotten my Raspberry Pi I’ve been playing with different things, mostly just trying different distributions and following the tutorials on Raspberry Pi Tutorials You Tube channel, not gotten too far with them just yet.

small credit card sized £25 computer running linux on a 19" tft

small credit card sized £25 computer running Debian Linux.

Also I have been trying different wifi adapters with it, installing and getting them to work and thats not as easy as it might sound and I had a lot of help from Phill. At one point I thought I had broken one of my SD cards as when I had completed writing the image to the SD it would no longer be recognised and wouldn’t boot the pi, if I plugged it into anything it wouldn’t even be detected and forums and friends were saying that it was broken and I may as well bin it.

Until I thought I might try it in my camera and it was detected but said it had an error so I went to the format SD option and formatted it too it out and polugged it back inot the netbook and detected it instantly no problem, since then I’ve had to use this a few times to restore a SD to working order again.

I plan on doing more programming with my Pi, although I’m unsure if I should continue with Python or Java or switch to Visual Basic. I know it may sound a bizarre choice but when looked from the perspective of the coming collage studies I will be needing to study VB in collage, I already studied some Java and I only really know how to do really basic stuff in Python.

1 Comment »

Wow where to begin.

This week

I have been using my Raspberry Pi, having a lot of fun with it but I could do with a HDMI to DVI adapter but moneys a bit tight so it will have to wait. Also plan on making a case for it out of Lego, I can’t wait till it’s sorted out and they release the Drivers for the GPU. I did get a USB 3 4 port powered hub for it, slight waste as the Pi is only USB 2 but it’s a solid hub with no stupid styling or extra “features”.

Me pulling faces

Do you Like My Duck Face?

I’ve been to the hospital for a consultation to try and get to the bottom of the illness I experienced over Christmas, lots of tests to be carried out, blood and heart. But it seems to be leaving me and now I only have a episode two or three times a month, and it can usually be sat out and after about an hour I can go back to what I was doing. So soon one way or another I will be back to proper health.

Been watching a few films, see Prometheus and I quite liked it and so did Vicky, but not everyone in our party enjoyed it. And from what I’ve seen on-line there are more who dislike it than like it. Another film I watched was Indy Game: The Movie its basically a documentary following three independent game developers as they put them selves through trials and tribulations, it can also be purchased through Steam.

Coming up

Also starting to get my diet right, cutting out some of the rubbish and getting a few more greens and fruit. Vicky is training for a in-door triathlon at out local gym, I think I’m going to aim to do it next year but I will be there to support her and will try and train with her. Also de-stressing and putting last weeks drama behind me and looking forward to getting back to college soon.

Le Mans this weekend and I’m going to be enjoying some company through the 24 hours, Vicky has decided to watch it with me after she watched it with me last year and her brother Tim will be watching it for the first time. So for 24 hours the diet is going to take a back seat and we are going to enjoy a laid back party atmosphere. (can’t use too much energy or you wont make the 24 hours.)

A computer the size of a credit card called the Raspberry Pi

A computer the size of a credit card called the Raspberry Pi

Going to wire the place so that we wont miss any of the coverage with thanks to Radio Le Mans streaming live commentary on the internet. So Phones will be charged with links to the site for toilet visits and kitchen breaks, the TV will be following the Euro-sport coverage and live timing and twitter feeds on the desktop. So this means altering my sleeping pattern a bit but not a major issue as I’m a night time person anyway.

Leave a comment »

Waiting for my PI

Never stop learning

In the last year at college I was taught Java, nothing against my tutors who are quite good but I don’t feel as though I’ve learned much. I know syntax and commands and structure of statements but I cannot think or problem solve using Java or any other language except HTML and CSS (although more a presentation language rather than a programming language). So while I’m taking my little sabbatical from college I plan on changing this. I am wondering would it be better if I started from the beginning using another language to try and approach it all from a different angle or stick with what I know and cut out some of the learning curve with Java.

Raspberry Pi Logo

The Raspberry Pi Logo

One of the things that is driving this little push toward learning programming aside from always wanting to learn is the recent article titled coding for success by Andy Young @ The Kernal.org. this opened my eyes to what I may need to do in order to succeed at learning to program. But another thing that’s peaked my interest is a wonderful little product called the Raspberry Pi, its a ultra cheap, very small, ARM based computer running Linux and potentially any ARM based OS that can run on 256 or 512mb RAM. it might be low power and the lower end of the specifications spectrum but it is also only $25 to $35 or there about.

Time away

I am also going to watch Kevin Smith and Jason Mews do Jay and Silent Bob get old in Hammersmith this month, hopefully I will also be stopping at Bletchly Park on the way home and I’m going to try and convince Vicky my wonderful wife to stop in Brooklands museum either on the way there or if we got time on the way home. Also at some point I plan on writing a story I’m planning on turning into a comic book that I might also illustrate.

In closing

There are a lot of other things I have in the works like spending more time with Project C.A.R.S and uploading more videos to my YouTube channel. Running events on the Hob Nob’s and Murder gaming communities Minecraft server. Although Project CARS is still looking for funding and anyone who gives money to the project will share in its profits and get access to builds of the game as it’s being developed. Also Hob Nobs & Murder have a new YouTube channel and we are always open for new members, if your interested join our Facebook page, Google+ page, Desura, Steam, YouTube or our blog and post some information about your self.

Because its Valentines day approaching here is a little Google love for everyone. Paste this into Google sqrt(cos(x))cos(300x)+sqrt(abs(x))-0.7)(4-x*x)^0.01, sqrt(6-x^2), -sqrt(6-x^2) from -4.5 to 4.5 and smile. ❤

Leave a comment »